Category: Archives

Covid-19 Updates (NDIS)

The NDIA announced that plans will no longer end. On the day your plan is due to expire, the NDIA will automatically extend it for 365 days. You will not need to do anything – it will happen automatically. That way there will be no gaps between plans for anyone to worry about.

Your extended plan will have the same budget and supports as your current plan.

The NDIA are trying not to have any face to face meetings at the moment (for obvious reasons). So around the time you are due for a review meeting, the NDIA will contact you to see if you are happy with your current plan. If you are, they will simply extend it for up to 24 months. No muss, no fuss.

If you don’t currently have support coordination in your plan you can now use some of your core funding to employ a support coordinator to help you. For people trying to juggle their supports at this difficult time, this might really be a help.

Specific for Deaf NDIS Participants:

  • You can use your core fund to purchase an appropriate device in the CORE supports (e.g.. can be used to fund everyday items participants may need. For example, low-cost/ low-risk category one assistive technology and equipment to improve your independence and/or mobility.
  • NDIA has now implemented to manage appointments effectively with the use of interpreters. Where possible, an Alert has now been added to the system to notify the staff member that the participant is an Auslan user. This has been added as an additional safeguard to ensure staff are booking interpreters for appointments where needed.

COVID-19 Updates (NRS and DSP)

National Relay Service (NRS)

National Relay Service (NRS) will remain open as recent announced restriction DO NOT APPLY to the NRS.

The NRS is an ESSENTIAL service, providing important assistancer to people who are Deaf, hard of hearing and/or speech impairment to keep in touch – and it is VITAL at this time.

However, the NRS is not immune from the widespread impact of COVID-19. Longer than usual wait times may be experienced due to increased call activities and reduced staff numbers.

The NRS Provider, Concentrix, is already exploring ways to continue to deliver the NRS at the greatest capacity possible while protecting the health of relay officers, including delivering the service remotely.

Please be patient during this difficult time.

The NRS Helpdesk is open Monday to Friday from o8am to 6pm (AEST), excluding public holidays. You can also leave message outside these hours and a Helpdesk staff will get back to you.

To receive messages and updates about NRS, sign up to Accesshub News and Alerts

Disability Support Pension (DSP)

In yesterday’s updates (COVID-19 Updates (Centrelink)), Information about accessing additional payments do not include Disability Support Pension (DSP). I am meeting with disability organisations tonight to discuss this matter and will provide you an updates regarding this issue tomorrow.

COVID-19 Updates (Centrelink)

Centrelink is currently VERY busy … some useful information to help assist you and Centrelink.

  • If you have Newstart or other payments, DO NOT contact Centrelink – your extra payment will automatically arrive.
  • If you are getting paid, not yet receive extra payment, please WAIT for 1 or 2 days to connect.
  • If you have lost your job and need to apply payment ASAP, you can
    • Go online and try to apply through MyGov ASAP. Try again when system is busy. Government will backpay your claim, you don’t need to lodge full claim immediately, but will need later.
    • In person, go to Centrelink and please practice Social Distancing.
  • Make a call to 132 850 via National Relay Service (expect queue for NRS and Centrelink).

DONT GIVE UP … Keep trying until you can lodge claim.

Joint Statement (with ASLIA)


Deaf Australia and the Australian Sign Language Interpreter Association (ASLIA) wish to stress the importance of ensuring highly skilled, NAATI certified, and conference level credentialed Auslan-English interpreters and Deaf Interpreters be employed for all media broadcast and all public emergency announcements nationwide. Text-based resources, such as captioning, do not have the same capacity to deliver the accurate information in this rapidly changing environment, and many Deaf people require information to be delivered in Auslan – a visual language.

Every person in Australia, including deaf people, have the right to access information, communication and knowledge on an equal footing as others as well as the right to receive accessible health care services.

The Australian Government is obliged to make information accessible to all citizens as per Articles 9 and 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and Article 11 which states:

State Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights laws, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.

Article 11 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The dissemination of the current pandemic of COVID-19 has seen the Australian Deaf community excluded in many instances. Deaf people reliant on Auslan require access to important information simultaneously with the wider community. This information is imperative for deaf people to make informed decisions and take the actions necessary to protect themselves, their families and the wider community.

Due to growing health concerns with COVID-19, Deaf Australia and ASLIA have some concerns and suggestions outlined below to support the Australian Government to ensure equitable provision of access during public addresses:

Concern 1:

Availability of interpreters – some areas throughout Australia do not have a pool of readily available, skilled and NAATI credentialled interpreters (e.g. Northern Territory, rural and remote areas).

Solution 1:

We suggest the authorities consider employing skilled interpreters and arranging the interpreter practitioner/s on a roster in a studio (or at home, due to increasing movement restrictions). This would ensure all information is interpreted via televised broadcast media and be linked in and displayed on a split screen alongside all footage (as occurs with journalists based in different locations).

Concern 2:

Social distancing policy – currently interpreters required to stand a ‘safe distance’ from individuals providing announcements means camera operators tend to zoom to the presenter only consequently the interpreter is not included in the screen during the televised/social media broadcast announcement.

Solution 2:

  1. We suggest that distancing measures are put in place to ensure the safety of interpreters is considered when working at media broadcast announcements.
  2. In addition, all broadcasters be instructed officially to include the interpreter in all broadcasts to the public.

Concern 3:

Positioning of interpreters on screen and broadcasting– when two cameras are used in situ, the interpreter has recently been seen superimposed on the main screen using Picture in Picture (PIP) format, however this viewing has been hampered by obstructions on screen.

Solution 3:

  1. This PIP needs to be clear of any obstructions such as captioning, or information displayed on the lower portion of the screen of the broadcaster. Ideally, the interpreter be displayed using 1/3 of the screen, as happens in the UK (see image below).
A person in a suit and tie
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  • Broadcasters be instructed to take additional care to ensure that the interpreter is included in the broadcast footage and included on online digital networks (e.g. websites, social media posts and during repeated broadcasts after the actual announcement).

Given the seriousness of the current situation, we urge all governments (Commonwealth, state and territory) and broadcast media outlets to ensure that up-to-date information, importantly the public announcements regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and its containment efforts include equitable access for all Australians. This also includes reliable accurate captioning and text-based information for those who are Hard of Hearing or Deafblind.

We share the same concern for the serious risks facing everyone at this time. We hope that you also share the belief that all information should be provided in an accessible format.

Deaf Australia, ASLIA and the Australian deaf community wish for improved collaboration through mutual cooperation to combat discrimination and provide best practices for full enjoyment of the rights to information by all Australian citizens, without exception, in their everyday life and especially in emergency situations.

Thank you …

(Transcript below)

Hello, I am Todd Wright, Chairperson of Deaf Australia.

I wish to express on behalf of Deaf Australia our appreciation and gratitude to the members of the Deaf Community who have actively worked hard to increase awareness about emergency announcements not being fully accessible, especially for the government to be mindful that they need to provide accessible information.

Thank you for your support, and specifically the Auslan Access Media group led by Shirley Liu and other members, who took the initiative of establishing this campaign.

Deaf Australia has relied on volunteers in the past to help us achieve our objectives and we certainly hope that there will be more volunteers who will rally and work collaboratively to make positive change for our community.

Without volunteers, achieving our goals becomes harder.

We wish to acknowledge and express gratitude for those who have worked hard in a positive way. There is always some risk with our community expressing anger in the wrong way – which can cause negative impact to the campaign. When this happens, governments and other stakeholders will focus on the negativity only and will ignore this as they do not want to deal with negativity.

It is important to remain positive and empower people to advocate in the right way.

Collecting examples of when there is no interpreter shown on screen during emergency announcements are a perfect way to positively demonstrate why the issue must be addressed and why the current system is failing us. When we have sufficient evidence, we can initiate positive dialogue with the government and broadcasters to ensure that access to information can be achieved.

We must include not only television, but also the internet in our dialogue.

In the future, television will phase out, and the internet will play an important role in our access to information. Television is regulated through legislation (Broadcasting Services Act) which requires broadcasters to make contents accessible, while internet have fewer protections and legislation for accessible information which makes it harder to establish standards.

Deaf Australia will keep monitoring the internet as our key point in accessible information in the near future.

When establishing campaign groups, it is important that the groups are established in an efficient and effective way. Sometimes, campaigns require to consider what our long term goals are when we achieve a positive response which does not fully meet our expectations. This will allow us to continue with negotiations and compromising for short term improvements in accessibility and working to eventually fulfil our goals, which takes time.  

I remember when I was involved in lobbying for more access to open-captioned cinemas. We lobbied long and hard for this and at the end we were provided with a solution using Capti-view which did not meet the expectations for many deaf people. In hindsight, perhaps the deaf community should have accepted the initial offer for some open captioned cinemas to be established.

Upon reflecting past experiences, it is always good to remember to focus on positive outcomes, and to continue negotiating for better opportunities. We cannot assume or expect that they will give what we expect straight-away. We need to be resilient and keep reminding them, and never give up.

As a group, we can make a change. As an individual, it is hard to make a change.

It is important that we all work together to achieve our access, our objectives by collaborating and supporting each other.

We really appreciate your support. Thank you.

Deaf Bushfires Appeal

Image courtesy of BBC NEWS

Deaf Australia has launched a ‘Deaf Bushfires Appeal’ to raise fund to provide financial assistance for deaf and hard of hearing families whose homes and property have been destroyed by this unprecedented bushfires.

The Daily Moth (an online deaf news delivered in American Sign Language (ASL)) has produced a video blog on this story. You can find this story here.

The fund will be used to provide communication supports and purchase of communication equipments if they are not eligible for other supports. This will enable the family to remain safe and in touch with their communities. Families who receives National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) should contact NDIS immediately.

We understand that communication is vital for deaf and hard of hearing people and without these supports, it would have been extremely difficult to be informed as the bushfires are currently ongoing when there is little, or no communication supports.

It is believed that there are dozen of deaf and hard of hearing families whose houses have been destroyed by the bushfires across Australia.

The target of the Deaf Bushfires Appeal is $25,000. 50% of the funding will be communication supports, 30% for communication equipment and 20% for ongoing work for Deaf Australia to lobby government to legislate the use of interpreter during emergency broadcasts. Families who are affected by the bushfires should contact Deaf Australia at [email protected].

Deaf Australia is a registered charity organisation and uses an approved fundraising donation platform (GiveNow). All donations received are tax deductible.

today to Deaf Bushfires Appeal

National Consultation

Deaf Sector and the NDIS

NDIS has established a ‘Hearing Stream Department’ and is seeking Deaf Australia to provide feedback to NDIS on the following topics:

  • Children learning Auslan;
  • Best Practice for early intervention including options for mode of communication;
  • NDIA Access Requirements;
  • Pricing for Early Intervention and interpreter supports;
  • Hearing and visual devices, augmentations, products and training;
  • Deafblind;
  • Carer’s perspective.

Community Consultations:

Deaf Australia will host 3 national consultations (Perth, Melbourne and Sydney). These consultations are in Auslan and interpreters are provided for non-Auslan users.

Date, time and location of consultations:

  • Perth – 3 April at 6.30 pm at AccessPlus WA Deaf, D’ Café, 34 Dodd Street, Wembley WA
  • Sydney – 16 April at 6.30 at Ephpheta Centre, 4 Turner St, Punchbowl NSW
  • Melbourne – 3 May at 6.30 at John Pierce Centre, 25-35 High Street Road, Prahran Vic

Online Survey:

Online Survey is being conducted via Survey Monkey, which means anyone can provide feedback. It is preferred that the person who is providing feedback are deaf, hard of hearing, parents/ carers of deaf child/ person, interpreters and service providers for deaf community.

Survey link:

Survey close on 17 May 2019.

Individual Interviews:

If you wish to provide one-to-one interview with Deaf Australia, you can request by sending an email to [email protected] and provide your contact details and we will get in touch with you to organise a time. The interview will be done via video conference.

It is expected that Deaf Australia will submit its report to NDIS by end of June 2019.

Media Release – Deaf Acknowledgement

We acknowledge and respect the members of the Deaf Community in Australia, who preserve their rich heritage, culture and our language; Auslan (Australian Sign Language).  We also acknowledge our custodians of Auslan, promoting awareness, equality and access through our sign language.  Through Auslan, we inspire future leaders in our deaf community to continue our legacy and heritage.

The Deaf Community in Australia has sought to gain recognition and acknowledgement for their key role in the community for preserving, promoting and inspiring the culture, language and identities of deaf people.

Deaf people are present in every culture and society including Indigenous Australians who had well-developed sign systems before the European Settlement. The first recorded deaf European-born migrant in Australia is Elizabeth (Betty) Steel who arrived on the Second Fleet as a convict in 1790.

Since then, there have been many Australians, including Aboriginals and migrants, who have contributed in every fabric of the Australian society, making Australia one of the most diverse nations in the world.   

Through deaf people, many businesses prospered and reaped financially and economically. Through deaf people, many services sought and lobbied by and for deaf people also benefited the rest of the Australian community and more. Through deaf people, they have raised awareness of the value of their community, their sense of belonging and identity, and their quest for life, pursuing opportunities, self-determination and appealing for a “fair-go” in the wider community and between themselves.

‘The statement acknowledges and respects the past and present members of the deaf community who have and will, in many ways, endures the legacy of the Deaf Community and marks the importance of dignity, self-worth and identity’, said Mr Todd Wright, Chairperson of Deaf Australia.  

The members of the Deaf Community formally endorsed this Deaf Acknowledgement statement at the Annual General Meeting for Deaf Australia in 2018.

  • END


Huawei’s AI-powered app is now Auslan compatible, helping deaf and hard of hearing children
and their parents to enjoy story time together.

SYDNEY, Australia — March 7, 2019

Huawei, a leader in global technology, has today announced the launch of StorySign app in Australia, which uses the power of AI to enrich story time for deaf and hard of hearing children and their parents by creating an authentic reading experience. 

Officially announced last year and now available in Auslan, the sign language of Australia’s deaf community, Huawei’s StorySign app harnesses the power of AI to open the world of books to deaf children and their families. Featuring popular children’s book ‘Where’s Spot?’ and using the help of StorySign’s friendly avatar Star, the app uses AI to translate popular children’s books into perfect sign language page by page, delivering a seamless user experience.  

To mark the Australian launch of Huawei’s StorySign app, Emma ‘Yellow Wiggle’ Watkins has partnered as an ambassador. As a passionate advocate for sign language and well recognised child entertainer, Emma is committed to supporting young children in the deaf community. 

“Empowering deaf children is a cause close to my heart and it’s wonderful to see the power of technology used to make such a positive impact. I have found signing is a compelling way to connect with our young audience, so I’m delighted to take this connection further and be an ambassador of Huawei’s app; helping young deaf children participate in story-time.”  

In Australia, around 400 children are born deaf each year*. With no written form for sign, children that are hard of hearing often struggle to connect sign language with the written word; posing reading challenges and ultimately impacting their literacy levels. The StorySign app, in conjunction with a smartphone and a physical book, delivers the best story time experience for both parent and child. 

 “With StorySign, Huawei is using the power of its AI and innovative technology in a meaningful way,” comments Lisa Connors, Huawei Australia Corporate Responsibility Manager. “We’re delighted to make this incredible StorySign app accessible to our local deaf community in Australia.”

Optimised for Huawei AI, features including Image Recognition and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) will create the best possible reading experience. The Image Recognition allows children to position the phone at an angle from the book and the app will still recognise the words perfectly, whilst the OCR permits the app to function with greater accuracy. The AI performance will also power the speed at which pages from the book can load in the app, meaning that children won’t be left waiting too long to find out what happens next in the story. 

To raise awareness of deaf literacy, Huawei Australia continues its partnership with national charity organisation, Deaf Australia, to encourage support and donation for those affected with hard of hearing. 

“The deaf community often struggles with content to address children’s literacy development needs. With the StorySign app now compatible with Auslan, Huawei is making digital tools accessible to Australian children. We are proud to continue our work with Huawei on the StorySign project as it unfolds in Australia.” said Kyle Miers, CEO of Deaf Australia. 

As a sign of ongoing commitment to the StorySign initiative, Huawei is investing in local research to support a wider conversation about ensuring equality in every aspect of their lives for people in the deaf community.  

StorySign is available on Android smartphones can be downloaded for free from Google Play Store. To watch the film and learn how you can help, visit Donations can be made via the StorySign campaign hub on the Huawei website, as well as through the ‘about’ section on the StorySign app. All money raised will support deaf child literacy projects in Australia, including more books for StorySign.


– ENDS – 

Stay connected with us:


In addition to the above spokespeople, select case studies are available for interview. For more information, please contact:

Francesca Di Stefano

BCW Global

E: [email protected]


Huawei’s products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world’s population. Fifteen R&D centers have been set up in the United States, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China. Huawei Consumer BG is one of Huawei’s three business units and covers smartphones, PC and tablets, wearables and cloud services, etc. Huawei’s global network is built on almost 30 years of expertise in the telecom industry and is dedicated to delivering the latest technological advances to consumers around the world.


Deaf Australia is the deaf-led peak organisation representing deaf people in Australia. We promote the advancement of human rights and equality for deaf people by collaborating with our members and stakeholders in implementing the United Nations Conventions and the National Disability Strategy. Deaf Australia is for all deaf, hard of hearing and non-deaf people and organisations (not-for-profit, for profit or government) that use and/or accept and respect Auslan (Australian Sign Language). 

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